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Apr 03, 2024

Renilla Farm and Iberico Pork

HG Walter

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Renilla Farm | HG Walter Ltd

Earlier in the month, we embarked on a pilgrimage to Renilla Farm, our trusted and longstanding purveyor of Iberico. Nestled where Salamanca meets Extremadura, the farm boasts a landscape fit for a painting. Sublime, snow-capped mountains rise majestically in the distance, while impossibly straight Roman roads cut across rolling green fields studded with Encinas, Spain's national tree and the source of those irresistible acorns for the pigs.

Arriving in Salamanca, the unmistakable aroma of authentic jamón, a scent that would linger for the next 48 hours, greeted us as we landed on the doorstep of Renilla’s factory. We were in Jamón country, and pure delight washed over us – like pigs in proverbial paradise, you might say.

Stepping inside Carlos' welcoming establishment, a haven of traditional Spanish charcuterie adorned with jamón legs suspended from the ceiling, we embarked on a factory tour and a journey through the life cycle of the Iberian black pig.

First, we witnessed the masterful butchery of the Iberico pig. Due to its high-fat content, swift butchery, and while the carcass is still warm, is crucial to avoid solidification. The breakdown process was an eye-opener, starkly contrasting what we'd seen with other breeds. Here, prized cuts were redefined. Legs and shoulders, destined for mince, sausages, and stewing cuts elsewhere, were meticulously removed, skinned in the classic V-shape, and hung on racks, ready for their glorious transformation. In place of British cutlets and meaty ribs, the carcass yielded treasures like secreto, pluma, presa, and cabecero, while trim was separated out into bins for the making of chorizo and salchichon, and pig cheeks set aside for guanciale. These cuts would previously been seen as a by-product of the jamon and paleta production, but in the last 10 years they’ve been given the love they deserve.

Our quest then led us to the hallowed chambers where legs and shoulders embark on a slow metamorphosis into jamón and paleta. We entered the salt room, where the shoulders and legs lay beneath mountains of rock salt, patiently undergoing the curing process.

Renilla Farm | HG Walter Ltd